Reverse Mentoring & How to set up a Program
Since my article published , I’ve been touched by the number of people who have reached out to me, both from within UK and outside of UK from other countries and companies, to find out more about Reverse Mentoring and how to set up a successful program.
General Electric’s CEO Jack Welch had travelled to London for one month on the year of 1999. A friend of him who manages a global finance company told Welch that a young person under 30 years old has been providing mentoring for him for speeding up his talking. This was one of the brightest ideas Welch has heard for years.
When he went back, he reversed the organization and initiated a practice in General Electric in the same year. He coupled 500 people from the top management with 500 people on the junior level. The juniors would provide mentorship to whom they were coupled with from the top management about internet usage.
The Y generation which were born at the end of 1980s and before 2000s will constitute the half of the global workforce on the year of 2020. Each person from Y generation who work in your company today is open to new job offers, and 38% of them are active job seekers while working in your company.
Of course, the fact whether you are a company that value its employees can change these rates but these percentages is more about the characteristics of Y generation. So, we need to make effort to hold them in our workplace.
The Y generation have the title of the most frequently job changer generation. According to the research conducted by the American survey company Gallup, 1 out of every 5 Y generation person has changed job in one year. This rate is three times more than the job change rate in other generations.
Furthermore, the cost of the job change rate of the Y generation is over 30 billion dollars per year. One of the most important reasons why the Y generation have such high job change rates is the fact that their loyalty to the companies they work is low. 3 out of every 10 Y generation person do not feel loyalty for the workplaces they work.
Well, what does Y generation want?
According to a research conducted by PwC in 2008;
86% of the Y generation express that they will leave from a company which does not have an institutional social responsibility value
75% of the Y generation predict that they will change two to five workplaces during their careers
The number of those who say that the most important thing in their work lives is education and career development is three times more than those who prefer high salaries
89% of the Y generation believe that working with successful mentors is an important part of their development
They want to have a mission, an aim in their workplaces
The companies which can foresee the problems created by this frequent job changes of the half of the workforce will be successful in the future. When we look at the strategies of the companies which succeeded in reducing turnover by making the Y generation loyal to the company they work, the first practice is the reverse mentoring. Reverse mentoring is an innovative mentoring method which makes the communication between the generations easy. In this mentoring method, while the managers are in the mentee position, the junior young professionals are in the mentor position. Reverse mentoring is providing;
In the company,
That the generations understand each other
Strengthening the work relations
Applying innovative ideas and new methods
It provides for the Y generation that,
They feel that they have a mission, an aim in the company
They gain leadership abilities
They are seen valuable by the company management
They widen their relation network
It provides for the company management that
They learn the most updated knowledge and technical abilities
They understand the expectations and the need of the Y generation better
Reverse mentorship which we are not used to hear is a method which was begun to apply along with the involvement of the Y generation into the work life. Today, this mentorship method which was popularized by General Electric has been using by most of the world leader companies such as Cisco, HP, Procter&Gamble, and Deloitte. BNY Mellon investment company remarks that 96% of its Y generation employees stayed in the company thanks to the reverse mentoring practices.
Their interest inspired me to write this article
10 simple steps you can use to set up a Reverse Mentoring Program.
Business Challenge – The first thing you need to think about when you set up a Reverse Mentoring program is “What is the Business Challenge(s) you are trying to solve/reduce with this program?” In other words, how is this program going to help your business to achieve its strategic objectives? Without this, it’s going to be very hard to: convince your business to invest in the program (from a time, money and resource perspective); encourage people to get involved as a mentor and mentee; and keep track of how the program is doing from a metrics perspective (see point 2 for more info)
Metrics – Once you know the business challenge you are going to address, it is much easier to set specific metrics for your Reverse Mentoring program.
For example, if you’ve decided that your program is going to address the Business Challenge of “The total number of women who work for in my organization is X% lower than other organizations in the company and/or industry average”, then metrics for your Reverse Mentoring program could include: matching all 30 leaders in the leadership team with a female mentor who is a Manager or below; raising awareness in the leadership team of the challenges females face at my company and in the X industry (you’d need to measure this awareness in the leadership team at the beginning, middle and end of your program); and having leaders and female mentors to generate at least 2 ideas of how to address this challenge.
Executive Sponsorship – An Executive Sponsor is someone high enough up in the organization who will champion the program and encourage his/her leaders to get involved, whose name gives weight to communications, etc.
A good Executive sponsor is the leadership team’s boss, for example the Vice President of the organization that you are trying to help solve one of its key business challenges. It’s even better if the Executive sponsor is willing to tie this program with the leadership team’s development goals so that leaders are measured on their involvement and contribution. This isn’t mandatory and if you have a good enough business challenge for the program, I have found that leaders are more than willing to get involved.
Attract Mentees first, then Mentors – People have come to me saying “I had huge interest from the Mentor community (Managers and below), but not as much from the Leadership team. What do I do?” This is a common challenge and one solution is to do it the other way round.
First get your Executive sponsor secured, then work with him/her to encourage the leadership team to get involved, and then reach out to the Mentor community. Your program becomes stronger because rather than saying “Thank you so much for your interest – we were overwhelmed that 50 of you want to get involved but we only have places for 20”, you can say “Hey, we have 30 leaders who want to be mentored by people like you to find out what it’s like working at X company as a female”.
Using this approach, it is possible that both the number of Leadership Mentees and the number of Mentors increase too because Mentors know that this is something their Leadership team and their business is passionate about! It also reduces the chances of disappointing potential Mentors who want to get involved in the program as you are very clear from the start about how many places you have available and if you have more Mentors than Mentees, you can create a waiting list.
Executive-Leader Introduction Call – Once you have secured your Mentees and Mentors, work with your Executive sponsor for him/her to host a call with the Leadership Mentees. Your Executive Sponsor should recap on why this Reverse Mentoring program is important to the business, what business objective it is trying to solve/reduce and lay out the metrics that will be used to measure the program. I’ve found that these calls are more effective in the Executive Sponsor can add some personal touches too – for example stories of when s/he participated in a Reverse Mentoring program in the past and their personal experience.
Resource Materials – Set up a similar call with the Mentors and in addition to covering the points above, you should also provide them with resource materials to help them with their Mentorship. These resource materials should include, but are not limited to: What is mentoring; Mentor and Mentee Responsibilities; Top tips on being a mentor; Areas to Mentor on; Proposed Timelines; Limitations; Challenges you may face and how to overcome them; Where to go if you need help
Mid-Point Checkpoint – After the mentors and mentees have been matched and start their meetings, it’s important to set up a mid-point checkpoint with both mentors and mentees (ideally separately) to see how they are getting on.
Of course, you should be available to both mentors and mentees to help them on their journey, but a mid-point checkpoint are formal meetings to discuss how the mentoring is going, what’s working, what’s not working, what changes you need to make to ensure the program is successful, etc. All mentors and mentees should be encouraged to attend these meetings and it’s a good idea to do a mid-point checkpoint on your metrics too!
Meeting Review – At the end of your mentorship, host another call with your mentors and mentees for a final review on how well the program has gone, what they achieved, what they weren’t able to achieve, ideas for improvements for next time, etc. This will also provide you with context for your metrics (see point 9 for more info)
Metric Review Time – Have you solved/reduced the business challenge you set out to tackle and have you met your metrics? Once you have this information, it’s important this is presented to the Executive Sponsor and the leadership team. You can use the information you gathered in the Mid-Point Checkpoint and Final Meeting Review for context on both why things worked well and why things didn’t work well
Decide Next Steps – Did you mentorship achieve everything you set out to achieve? If not, could you set up another mentoring program (either with the same group or another group) to achieve the remaining objectives?
What would you do differently next time?